Your Heart Disease Guide
Last updated date: 17-Aug-2022
16 mins read
Firstly, What is the Heart? Where is the Heart Located in the Human Body?
The human heart is a skillful organ that supports the entire body. The heart is a muscle located in the chest that is about the size of a closed fist and slightly off-center, to the left. Every day, the heart beats about 100,000 times, pumping 8 pints of blood throughout the body. Deoxygenated blood is delivered by the heart to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen (O2) and releases carbon dioxide (CO2), a waste product of metabolism. Therefore, the main function is to circulate blood throughout your body.
The circulatory system is made up of the heart, blood, and blood vessels, including arteries, capillaries, and veins.
What is the Heart formed of? Heart anatomy, Heart characterization
Even though most people are familiar with the classic heart symbol, in reality, the human heart diagram looks completely different. The heart is formed of four chambers: the atria (two upper chambers playing an important role in receiving blood) and the ventricles (two lower chambers that discharge blood). The left and right ventricles are separated by a wall of tissue known as the septum. The ventricles and atria are separated by valves. Three layers of tissue make up the heart's walls:
- Myocardium- this is the heart's muscle tissue.
- Endocardium- the valves and chambers are shielded by this tissue that coats the inside of the heart.
- Epicardium- the deepest layer of the pericardium is this protective layer, which is primarily made of connective tissue. The pericardium is a thin protective coating surrounding the other parts.
What are Heart valves? How many Heart valves are there?
To ensure that the blood only flows in one direction, there are four heart valves labeled:
- The aortic valve that is placed between the left ventricle and the aorta;
- The mitral valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle;
- The pulmonary valve between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery;
- The tricuspid valve is between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
What is Heart valve disease?
One or more of the human heart's valves aren't functioning properly if a person has cardiac valve disease. Four valves in the heart keep blood moving in the right way, meaning that heart valve problems strongly affect one’s health. A valve or more valves may occasionally open or close improperly. This may interrupt the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. One’s heart valve disease's type, severity, and impacted heart valve will all affect how the treatment method. Heart valve replacement surgery may be needed in some cases of heart valve disease. Open heart surgery involves entering the chest through the breastbone to do heart valve surgery. It is a complex procedure that can take up to two hours to complete, and recuperation frequently lasts for several weeks. Some forms of valve heart disease can be treated with newer, less invasive techniques, but only at specific facilities.
Heart valve problems include:
- Regurgitation. Blood leaks backward in the heart because the valve flaps don't seal properly. Prolapse, a condition where the valve flaps bulge back, is the main cause of this phenomenon.
- Stenosis. The valve flaps might fuse together and get thick or rigid. As a result, the valve opening is lowered, and less blood flows through the valve.
- Atresia. Blood flow between the heart chambers is obstructed by a solid sheet of tissue because the valve isn't developed.
What are Heart murmurs?
The sound of the heart is one that most people are familiar with. In actuality, the heart emits a variety of sounds, and doctors can identify these to keep track of the heart's health.
The valves' opening and shutting play a major role in the heartbeat's sound. The cardiac valves leaking or obstruction can produce sounds generally known as heart murmurs. Heart murmurs can be congenitally present at birth or can appear later in life (acquired). There are some benign cardiac murmurs (innocent). An undiagnosed heart murmur does not indicate cardiac disease and does not require medical attention. A significant cardiac problem may be indicated by further heart murmurs. To check the heart and heart valves, multiple tests may be required.
Typically, heart murmur symptoms may include blue or gray lips or fingernails, heart pain, dizziness, fainting, cough, difficulties in breathing and weight gain.
How does the Heart work?
The heart rhythm and the contractions may vary based on multiple factors, including activity, existing medical conditions, fever, specific medication, the level of body hydration and even emotional factors. The heart may beat about 60 times per minute while at rest. However, it is possible for this to rise to 100 bpm or higher. The right and left sides of the heart collaborate in harmony. A rhythmic heartbeat is created when the ventricles and atria contract and rest one after the other.
- The right side- deoxygenated blood is taken up by the right side of the heart and sent to the lungs. The superior and inferior vena cava veins carry deoxygenated blood from the body to the right atrium. These are the body's biggest veins. Blood flows to the right ventricle as the right atrium contracts. When the right ventricle is full, it contracts and sends blood through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. The blood absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide in the lungs.
- The left side- Blood is drawn from the lungs and pumped to the rest of the body by the left side of the heart. Through the pulmonary veins, freshly oxygenated blood returns to the left atrium. Blood is forced into the left ventricle by the contraction of the left atrium. When the left ventricle reaches capacity, it constricts and forces the blood back through the aorta and into the body.
The term “heartbeat” has been mentioned multiple times above. It is important to acknowledge that every heartbeat has two parts: diastole and systole.
- Diastole- as the atria contract, emptying all blood into the ventricles, the ventricles relax and fill with blood.
- Systole- as the atria relax and fill with blood once more, the ventricles contract to pump blood from the heart.
A high and a low figure will be displayed by the device when someone takes their blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the high number, and diastolic blood pressure is the lower number.
What is Heart rate? What Heart rate burns fat?
The heart rate represents the number of heartbeats per minute. Adults typically have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate typically indicates improved cardiovascular fitness and more effective cardiac function. A well-trained athlete, for instance, might have a typical resting heart rate that is closer to 40 beats per minute.
What Heart rate is high? What Heart rate is too low?
Regarding heart rate variability, although there is a wide range of what is considered normal, an unusually high or low heart rate could point to more serious heart issues. If one’s resting heart rate consistently exceeds 100 beats per minute (tachycardia) or if it consistently falls below 60 beats per minute (bradycardia) and they are not a trained athlete, it is essential to see a heart doctor right away, especially if they also experience other symptoms like fainting, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
Even when a person sits still and quiet, heart rates that are constantly over 100 can occasionally be brought on by an irregular heart rhythm. A weak heart muscle caused by a virus or another issue may also have a high heart rate, forcing the heart to beat more frequently in order to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
When an individual is exercising, they are in the "fat burning zone," sometimes referred to as the fat burning heart rate, which is between 70 and 80 percent of their maximal heart rate.
What is Heartburn?
Stomach acid rising toward the neck is what causes heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the chest (acid reflux) and if it persists, it can turn into a condition known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
What is Heart Disease?
Heart problems and disorders of various kinds are referred to as "heart disease." Coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects heart blood flow, is the most prevalent kind of heart disease in the US. A heart attack could be caused by decreased blood flow. The causes of the particular type of heart disease and how heart disease is diagnosed will vary and the heart disease symptoms can also differ depending on the type. Heart disease can present in a variety of forms and they include:
- Blood vessel disease
Human blood vessels and the heart can become harmed by atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries (pronounced "ath-ur-o-skluh-ROE-sis"). Plaque accumulation results in blocked or restricted blood vessels, which can cause a heart attack, angina, or a stroke. Men and women may experience different symptoms of coronary artery disease. For instance, chest pain is more common among men. In addition to chest tightness, women are more prone to experience acute exhaustion, nausea, and shortness of breath. Signs and symptoms can be various, and they may include chest pain, tightness and pressure, difficulties in breathing, as well as painful sensations in the neck, jaw, throat or upper abdomen.
A heart rhythm anomaly is known as an arrhythmia. Its heartbeat can be too slow, too fast, or erratic. These anomalies can be a slight annoyance or discomfort all the way up to a potentially deadly issue. All age groups can experience arrhythmias, however elderly persons are more likely to experience atrial fibrillation. Being overweight or excessively drinking alcohol both raise the risk of atrial fibrillation. Viral infections, alcohol, tobacco, changes in posture, exercise, caffeine-containing beverages, several over-the-counter and prescription medications, and illegal recreational drugs are common causes of arrhythmias. Arrhythmias can cause heart palpitations, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, and shortness of breath, though not everyone who experiences these symptoms necessarily has a cardiac rhythm issue. One of the possible causes of arrhythmia is heart inflammation.
- Congenital heart defects
Congenital heart defects (heart diseases that are hereditary), which are severe birth disorders of the heart, are frequently discovered shortly after birth. Children's heart genetic defect symptoms and indicators could include pale gray or blue color of the skin and swelling of certain areas such as legs or abdomen. Congenital cardiac abnormalities that are less severe are frequently not discovered until later in childhood or into maturity. The following are congenital heart defects symptoms that often don't pose a life-threatening threat: feeling easily exhausted or out of breath during exercise or physical activity, as well as swelling of ankles, feet, and hands.
- Heart valve disease (as previously described)
- Disease of the heart muscle
Cardiomyopathy is a broad term for conditions affecting the heart muscle in which the heart chamber walls have swollen, thickened, or stiffened. This has an impact on the heart's capacity to circulate blood within the body. Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart's defective heart muscle is not brought on by congenital heart disease, excessive blood pressure, valvular disease, coronary artery disease, or hypertension. The majority of hereditary forms of cardiomyopathy affect youngsters and younger people.
- Heart infection
A rare and potentially fatal infection of the heart's inner lining is known as endocarditis (the endocardium). The bacteria that enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart are the most frequent causes. Endocarditis's initial signs and symptoms include those of the flu and include having a high body temperature causes headaches, joint pain, and muscular soreness. Infection destroys heart valves and impairs regular blood flow through the heart if left untreated.
Healthy lifestyle choices can either prevent or treat many types of heart disease.
Possible Complications of Heart Disease
When a person finds out they have heart disease, it's crucial for them to adjust their lifestyle to stop the condition from getting worse. If a heart disease is not addressed, it can lead to several potentially fatal complications. Possible complications include:
- Heart failure
When the heart is unable to sufficiently pump blood throughout the body, heart failure results. The cardiac muscle is quite powerful. But with time, the muscle may experience problems and have issues performing its function. The heart begins to make up for this by beating more quickly, developing more muscle, or expanding to hold more blood. These compensatory techniques may eventually impair heart function and lead to heart failure. Breathing difficulties, lightheadedness, confusion, and a buildup of fluid that results in edema can all be heart failure symptoms. There are four heart failure stages (Stage A, B, C, and D). From "high risk of developing heart failure" to "advanced heart failure," there are various phases. Heart failure is diagnosed by taking different tests such as heart X-rays, an electrocardiogram (ECG)or certain blood tests.
- Heart attack
When the coronary arteries become so narrow as to stop the heart's blood flow, a heart attack happens. This is frequently the outcome of atherosclerosis or cholesterol buildup in the arteries. Cholesterol can clog a blood vessel if a fragment breaks off and lodges there. As the cardiac cells are starved of oxygen, they start to die. Breathlessness and severe chest pain, which may spread to the back, jaw, or left arm, are among the heart attack symptoms. However, as will be covered below, women may suffer a unique heart attack and heart disease symptoms. In women, symptoms of a heart attack symptoms include uncomfortable pressure in the center of the chest, pain in arms, back, neck, jaw and stomach, as well as other signs (cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness). Low dosages of aspirin for heart attack are recommended, such as those between 75 and 100 milligrams (mg), but most frequently 81 mg, as they can help avoid heart attacks and strokes. Typically, medical professionals recommend a daily dosage of 75 mg to 325 mg (a regular-strength tablet).
Blood clots are more prone to form in the blood vessels when the heart isn't performing properly. When one of these clots becomes stuck in a blood vessel in the brain and stops the flow of blood, a stroke happens. We refer to this as an ischemic stroke. Numbness on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking, and loss of balance or coordination are some signs of an ischemic stroke.
A person may lose too many brain cells in crucial regions of the brain that regulate speech, strength, memory, and other functions if they don't seek therapy right once. Even if a person survives the stroke, some aspects of their brain function might never return or can require time and therapy.
A bulging in the wall of the body's main artery (the aorta) is known as an aortic aneurysm. Some individuals experience symptoms when the aneurysm enlarges. Whether it is an abdominal or thoracic aortic aneurysm, the symptoms can vary slightly. Thoracic aortic aneurysm symptoms include chest discomfort, back pain, hoarseness in the cough, and shortness of breath. Those who don't have any symptoms frequently are unaware that they have an aortic aneurysm. It's frequently found during examinations or therapies for other illnesses. One needs to go through a few tests to find out for sure if they have an aortic aneurysm, as suspected by the doctor. These could consist of an echocardiography, a heart X-ray, a CT scan, an MRI, and a heart ultrasound.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Decreased blood flow to the arms or legs can be a result of peripheral artery disease, also known as peripheral arterial disease. In peripheral artery disease (PAD), the blood supply to the legs or arms — typically the legs — is insufficient to meet demand. Other symptoms, such as claudication, may result from this. Typically, peripheral artery disease indicates an accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Vascular narrowing brought on by atherosclerosis can lessen blood flow to the arms and legs. Treatment for peripheral artery disease involves physical activity, a good diet, and abstinence from nicotine and smoking.
- Cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest is the moment when the heart suddenly stops beating. Typically, a cardiac electrical disruption is at blame. Arrhythmias brought on by a heart condition might result in cardiac arrest. If not treated right away, this will result in death.
Is Heart Disease curable? Can Heart Disease be reversed?
Unfortunately, research indicates that there is no "cure" for heart disease. Nevertheless, it is typically well-managed with a combination of medicinal and lifestyle changes. Many patients with heart disease lead long, fulfilling, active, and independent lives when given the right care. Today's doctors have a variety of drugs at their disposal to aid their patients in the fight against heart disease. They can anticipate using one or more of these extremely effective heart medications if they have heart disease. One must comprehend the effects of each medicine and how to use them properly as a heart patient, frequently in combination. These drugs prolong both the length and quality of life when administered properly and in accordance with the correct prescription by preventing heart attacks and strokes. Once diagnosed, this illness is irreversible. However, one can alter their way of living to lower the risk of acquiring new health issues, like a heart attack. A simple search on the internet saying “heart doctor near me” can help find a specialist in one’s area.
A little tube called a heart stent can be extremely helpful in the treatment of heart problems. It aids in maintaining the flexibility of your arteries, which are the blood vessels that deliver blood from your heart to other body areas, including the heart muscle itself.
The majority of stents are permanent and comprised of wire mesh. Some are made of cloth. Stent grafts are what they are known as, and bigger arteries frequently employ them.
A very uncommon primary malignant (cancerous) tumor that develops in the heart is called cardiac sarcoma. A first cardiac tumor is one that develops there. An additional cardiac tumor develops elsewhere in the body before migrating to the heart. Primary cardiac tumors are generally uncommon, and the majority of them are benign (noncancerous). Depending on where a cardiac tumor is, different symptoms may be present. Heart tumors can develop on the outside of the heart, intracardially (inside the heart's chambers), or within the muscle tissue of the heart.
Is Heart transplant possible?
A failing heart can be replaced with a healthier donor heart during a heart transplant procedure. People who need a heart transplant are typically those whose conditions haven't improved enough with medication or other procedures.
Even though a heart transplant is a big procedure, one’s chances of survival are strong with the right aftercare.
What are Heart palpitations? Are Heart palpitations normal or are Heart palpitations dangerous?
Heart palpitations are sensations of a hammering, fluttering, or rapid heartbeat. They can occasionally be brought on by a medical condition, stress, exercise, or medicine. Even though heart palpitations can be unsettling, they are typically not harmful. Rarely, heart palpitations may be a sign of a more severe heart issue, such as an arrhythmia, which may need to be treated.
What Heart conditions require a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a little gadget that electrically stimulates the heart muscle to keep the heartbeat and rhythm normal. Congestive cardiac failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and fainting spells (syncope) are some conditions that may be treated with a pacemaker. During a quick procedure, it is inserted just beneath the skin of the chest. The pacemaker in a healthy heart controls how frequently the heart beats. Usually, pacemakers are used to treat the following conditions: Bradyarrhythmias (these slow heartbeats might be caused by issues with the electrical conduction system of the heart, such as the SA node, AV node or HIS-Purkinje system) and heart failure (biventricular pacing or cardiac resynchronization treatment (CRT) are the names of this device).
Recommendations for Heart health
There are a few practices that medical professionals recommend in order to maintain a healthy heart. Firstly, by preventing weight gain and lowering the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, a balanced healthy diet and incorporating more healthy foods in the nutritional plan can also help lower the risk of getting these conditions. There are many healthy recipes worth trying that help keep the heart healthy. Secondly, being physically active, maintaining healthy body weight, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption can all help for heart health.
The human heart is the primary organ of the circulatory system, playing an essential role in pumping blood throughout the body and controlling the heart rate and blood pressure. There are many medical conditions that may affect this organ, including blood vessel disease, arrhythmias, heart infection, heart valve disease and others. Some may have more serious complications such as heart attack, heart failure or stroke.